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Inventors Information Concerning Patents - CORRESPONDENCE

How to correspond with the United States Patent and Trademark office concerning patents and issues related to patent applications.

All business with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office) should be transacted in writing and all correspondence relating to patent matters should be addressed to “ COMMISSIONER FOR PATENTS, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20231.” If a special mail box is appropriate, the special mailbox should also be used. Mail properly addressed to different mail boxes should be mailed separately to ensure proper routing. For example, after final correspondence should be mailed to “Box AF, Commissioner for Patents, Washington DC 20231,” and assignments should be mailed to “Box Assignments, Director- U.S. Patent and trademark OfFice, Washington D.C. 20231.” Correspondents should be sure to include their full return addresses, including zip codes. The principal location of the USPTO is Crystal Plaza 3, 2021 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia. The personal presence of applicants at the USPTO is unnecessary.

Applicants and attorneys are required to conduct their business with decorum and courtesy. Papers presented in violation of this requirement will be returned.

Separate letters (but not necessarily in separate envelopes) should be written for each distinct subject of inquiry, such as assignments, payments, orders for printed copies of patents, orders for copies of records, and requests for other services. None of these inquiries should be included with letters responding to Office actions in applications.

When a letter concerns a patent application, the correspondent must include the application number, filing date, and Art Unit number. When a letter concerns a patent, it must include the name of the patentee, the title of the invention, the patent number, and the date of issue.

An order for a copy of an assignment must give the book and page, or reel and frame of the record, as well as the name of the inventor; otherwise, an additional charge is made for the time consumed in making the search for the assignment.

Applications for patents, which are not published or issued as patents, are not generally open to the public, and no information concerning them is released except on written authority of the applicant, his/her assignee, or his/her attorney, or when necessary to the conduct of the business of the USPTO. Patent application publications and patents and related records, including records of any decisions, the records of assignments other than those relating to assignments of unpublished patent applications, patent applications that are relied upon for priority in a patent application publication or patent, books, and other records and papers in the Office are open to the public. They may be inspected in the USPTO Search Room or copies may be ordered.

The Office cannot respond to inquiries concerning the novelty and patentability of an invention prior to the filing of an application; give advice as to possible infringement of a patent; advise of the propriety of filing an application; respond to inquiries as to whether, or to whom, any alleged invention has been patented; act as an expounder of the patent law or as counselor for individuals, except in deciding questions arising before it in regularly filed cases. Information of a general nature may be furnished either directly or by supplying or calling attention to an appropriate publication.

From Mary Bellis,
Your Guide to Inventors.
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